The Voices of Pixar
Highlighting the efforts of those vocal performers that have popped up in several beloved Pixar features.
An incredible vocal performance is pivotal to creating any character in an animated film. If the actor doesn't work in the role, then the character feels clumsy and a little underdeveloped. Pixar always find the absolute greatest people to voice their characters; and so here, I have found the 7 actors who have provided that all important vocal performance on several occasions.
Now yes I know that Tom Hanks, Owen Wilson, Ellen Degeneres, John Goodman and so on have appeared in multiple Pixar films, but they have all returned as the same character. This list focuses on those voices that you may not have realised play a different character in the animation studios' filmography.
If you don't know this name then you really need to brush up on your Pixar knowledge. John Ratzenberger has appeared in every Pixar film bar one (Soul).
His first, and arguably most memorable performance came in the first Pixar full-length feature Toy Story. He voiced the money bank Hamm and his dry wit and vocal energy provided him with the opportunity to keep coming back.
Pixar now consider Ratzenberger as their good luck charm, asking him to appear in every one of their feature films. And although characters like Hamm and Mack are his biggest roles, Ratzenberger himself stated that his favourite of the characters he's played was ringmaster P.T.Flea in A Bug's Life.
My favourite performance - Abominable snowman in Monsters, Inc.
Comedy actor Brad Garrett is best known for his performance in comedy TV show Everybody Loves Raymond. But Pixar lovers may recognise his deep vocals for different reasons.
First playing Dim in A Bug's Life, Garrett was part of the puzzle in creating yet another loveable character. He has since returned two more times to provide his vocals and yet again his performances have been note perfect.
Garrett did still audition for his role as Bloat, despite already appearing in a Pixar film previously. He got the role however, beating A Bug's Life co-star Richard Kind and voicing Bloat the puffer fish.
My favourite performance - Gusteau in Ratatouille
Bonnie Hunt is a chameleon of the voice acting world. She disguises herself behind very different characters and often slips into the background. But taking a moment to reflect on her performances shows just how brilliant she is.
In Monsters, Inc she voices Ms Flint, a stern worker at Monsters, Incorporated, In Cars a stubborn Porsche and in Toy Story 3 & 4 a loveable dolly named Dolly. Every single one of her characters has different attitudes and although often smaller roles, Bonnie Hunt is always a great addition to these films.
My favourite performance - Sally in Cars
The roles pictured are just a few of the many voices that Bob Peterson has provided for Pixar movies. However in films like Cars, The Incredibles and Toy Story 3 he plays additional characters, filling out the background noise and adding to the overall atmosphere. As a screenwriter and animator for Pixar, Peterson has often been around to provide those beloved voices. It's just an added bonus that he's so good.
When he is given the chance to play more of a leading role though, it is always a hilarious pleasure. Take the voices of Roz in Monsters, Inc and Dug in Up; they couldn't be more different. And each of those are two of the most iconic Pixar characters to date.
My favourite performance - Roz in Monsters, Inc
Now there's no doubts here, Richard Kind's best performance for Pixar was as Bing Bong in 2015's Inside Out. But he has provided a few more Pixar performances along the way.
He has a loveable, childlike energy in most of his roles, but then knocks it out of the park with a clever character like the bookworm in Toy Story 3, or an agitated one in Cars. He's often meant to seem annoying or in one case annoyed, but he never could, because his voice is one of a kind.
My favourite performance - Bing Bong in Inside Out
The late Joe Ranft was one of the big names at Pixar in its' early days. He not only provided these incredible acting performances but he was also a screenwriter, animator and storyboard artist for many of those films.
His death in 2006 shook the studio and many others, with stop motion director (Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas) Henry Sellick calling Ranft "the story giant of our generation".
His legacy is still remembered in Pixar today; most recently in Soul in which a plaque can be seen showing Ranft as one of the all time greats who had tried to tutor 22 in the past. Putting him amongst some of the famous names that appear in that segment of the film is clearly no understatement for the team at Pixar.
My favourite performance - Heimlich in A Bug's Life
Now when researching for this blog, Andrew Stanton's roles shocked me. Now of course I (as I'm sure do many others) know Stanton for his directing of Finding Nemo and WALL-E, but did not know just how many times he's lent himself to a vocal performance.
Not dissimilar to Bob Peterson, Stanton has provided additional voices to fill out the overall sound, but his standout performances come in the forms of Zurg in Toy Story 2 and Crush in Finding Nemo. You may have been aware that Stanton voiced one of these, but they are so incredibly different that never did I imagine that he was the voice of both. Throw in the lifeguard bot from WALL-E and Fred in Cars and you have a real variety of character voices.
My favourite performance - Crush in Finding Nemo
So there you have it, the voices of Pixar. All of the above are the vocals that have stuck with me the most, but there are many others that have provided small cameo performances over Pixar's ever-growing filmography. It just goes to show how collaborative the team are at the studios; lending a hand in whatever way possible to make the films the masterpieces that they are.
Go and listen to our most recent episode of podcast 'talkabout' on which we count down the Top 10 Pixar films voted for by our listeners. You don't want to miss it! Available now wherever you stream your podcasts.
All 23 Pixar films can be found now on Disney+